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The Hindu: A Peek Into The World Of Improvisational Theatre

Kaivalya Plays artistic director Varoon P. Anand (@varoon.anand) and our play Unravel feature in this extensive cover of the growing improv landscape in the country by Shrinkhla Sahai (@shrinkhlasahai) in today's edition of The Hindu's Friday Review.

We're excited about the evolving improv scene being cultivated by our friends at The Impro Company (@theimprocompany), Playground Improv Collective (@playgroundimprov), Nautankibaaz (@nautankibaaz.improv.comedy), Unqualified Improv (@unqualifiedimprov), Improv Comedy Bangalore (@icbangalore) and many more groups and practitioners working on bringing improvisation in all its beautiful shapes and forms to the Indian audience. .

With more visibility comes an added responsibility of encouraging conversations around safety, consent and acceptance for improvisers and audiences, in scenes or even outside. Recently, we've been exploring the therapeutic effects of improv when applied to real life situations and the results have been highly positive.

We're happy that we've found a willing collaborator in the Oddbird Theatre & Foundation (@oddbirdtheatre) with whom we'll be conducting HEAD SPACE:  A series of monthly workshops & jams designed to foster wellness in individuals through improv theatre, and create a safe and supportive community space to share personal experiences. We thank Shrinkhla for bringing this conversation to the fore. Here's to making a lot more noise with our Yes, Ands :) .

Featured Photo Credits: @_sanjanachopra_

Here is a short excerpt from the article:


In their latest Improv show- Unravel, Kaivalya Plays, a Delhi-based collective, unpacks issues of mental health. Improvisation games and exercises alongside audience suggestions provide an entry point into unsettling discussions that probe the stigma around mental health through the production. The ensemble uses spontaneous Improv, theatre exercises and audience suggestions to devise the final performance on the spot. The show aims to create safe spaces for the performers and audience alike to acknowledge and possibly, articulate their own experiences with mental health. Initially commissioned for the Refunction programme by Goethe-Institut /Max Mueller Bhavan the show has evolved steadily from the earlier format and also involves a drama therapist now.

Director Varoon P. Anand was first introduced to “spontaneous improvisation” in 2008 at the Theatre Guild of Ancon in Panama. “Over the years my curiosity about the relationship of spontaneous improvisation with depression only grew,” he shares. “This piece seeks to explore a theoretical connection between the techniques of improvisation and its therapeutic effects on anxiety, depression, manic depression, bipolar disorder and other possible mental health disorders. One of the main concerns with ‘Unravel’ is to maintain an atmosphere of discovery and conversation, constantly engaging the audience and encouraging their participation, but without trying to offer conclusions or “cures” to the symptoms of depression or anxiety.”

A relatively nascent genre in the country, improvisational theatre is now teeming with possibilities, players and perspectives. Kaivalya Plays would be opening the Old World Culture Theatre festival at the India Habitat Centre, Delhi, in August, attempting to situate improv productions into mainstream theatre festivals, rather than offsets of comedy shows.

One of the most awaited theatre festivals in the capital, an Improv theatre production would be featured as the opening production for the first time. “We are often asked whether the show was really improvised!” says Anand, “Do we have a script? No. Of course we have an overall structure, but the actual show is created with and amid the audience. Come to the show to discover this and explore Improv!”

Read the full article on The Hindu website here.


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